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Wednesday, 27th August 2008
In General Japan News,

Minister questioned by media over expenses

The Japanese farm minister is facing an investigation over possible misuse of government funds.

Seiichi Ota has claimed office expenses of some 23.45 million yen but it has come to light that he actually worked out of his secretary's office without paying rent and he has failed to explain what the expenses were for - claiming that the arrangement has been in place for some years.

"I've been disclosing this information for years because I see no problem," explained Mr Ota.

He added: "Was it problematic? That's in the eye of the beholder. If people say it is an issue, I must accept that and consider it to be an issue."

Mr Ota also avoided answering questions on whether he was planning to resign over the matter, despite repeated calls from the opposition Democratic party requesting he take responsibility.

The Farm ministry has been hit by a number of political scandals over the past year, with three ministers being replaced due to financial irregularities, according to the Standard.

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